An “inadequate and confusing” plan prepared by the Chandigarh administration was behind the Centre’s refusal to include the common capital of Punjab and Haryana into the list of 20 cities selected for smart city mission in the current financial year, as per reports accessed exclusively by the Sunday Guardian.
The panel of experts, who evaluated the proposals of all the cities on behalf of the Union government, said that the “SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is inadequate and confusing”. The UT officers seemed to be undecided on what to be cited as their strength and weaknesses, the panel said, adding the officers cited neighbouring towns of Panchkula and Mohali as both their strength and weakness.
Chandigarh is sending a revised proposal to the Centre as its hopes to become eligible for funding in round two of the financial year 2016-17. The experts found the administration’s original report wanting on many respects. The “neighbouring cities of Panchkula and Mohali are upcoming IT destinations attracting investment, finance and service industry,” observed the experts. “Proposals for connecting Chandigarh with Mohali and Panchkula with metro-rail are underway. This has been identified as an opportunity as well as a threat,” they added. The experts were baffled by the fact that while the Chandigarh officials consider rehabilitation of slum dwellers as strength, they didn’t find “the reasons for their presence as a weakness.” The experts noted that the report sent by Chandigarh proposed to leverage ICT solutions to improve services in its part on strategic focus and blueprint for the city. “However ICT solutions are already employed in most of the sectors like water-supply, solid waste management,” said the experts. In fact during his maiden visit to Chandigarh in September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had thrown a hint that the city babus will have to think out of the box while preparing their smart city plan and not just confine it to “lal dora”.
Recently, urban development director Munish Kumar Garg wrote to Anurag Aggarwal, Chandigarh’s urban development secretary, to send a revised proposal, keeping in mind the observations made by the experts.